In 1996, the first wireless calls to 9-1-1 services were sent, and ever since a greater and greater percentage of calls and communications to 9-1-1 are being made on wireless devices. Now, upwards of 90% of 9-1-1 calls are made wirelessly, and public safety agencies have since continued to take steps to evolve their communications technology through Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), an initiative that seeks to upgrade and improve our 9-1-1 infrastructure. This program was heavily supported by a technology company called Telecommunications Systems (TCS), the company that pioneered and developed the platform for the Short Messaging System (SMS), or as it is better known now, text messaging. TCS provided the public safety community with technology to improve wireless calls, implement highly accurate location services, and utilize the SMS technology they developed to “text” 9-1-1.
Our Founder, Timothy Lorello, was Senior VP and Chief of Marketing at TCS, as well as an engineer for the company with a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. Tim worked at TCS for over two decades, and his specialty in software development awarded him twenty patents, including some for the SMS platform. During this evolution of public safety's communications systems he cultivated many relationships within the community, and was intimately involved with the NG9-1-1 movement, spending much of his time developing location based services for the new technology being utilized. Tim helped educate government agencies including the FCC on how to implement these new communications technology, encouraging them to advance policies in communications technology for the nations mission-critical infrastructure. Through this process he became very aware of the difficulties that public safety would face as it marched into the modern age of technology.
NG9-1-1 brought our mission-critical infrastructure into a new age of Information Technology, and even today continues to lead the charge. Modern 9-1-1 systems are based on next generation technologies, and this allows citizens to send texts, videos, and other sorts of data to a 9-1-1 center in order to facilitate an emergency response. All these upgrades are necessary for a faster response time in situations where minutes, even seconds matter. While this much needed implementation of new technology came with many benefits, it also came with a new and dangerous threat: cyber attacks against 9-1-1.
Cyber attacks have long been an issue in technologically advanced systems, and public safety infrastructure is a particularly valuable target to cyber criminals and state actors. Tim spent his history at TCS solving technical problems and pushing innovation for our mission critical infrastructure; in 2016 he decided his next step was to tackle the latest challenge that was slowing the implementation of next-gen technology for public safety: cybersecurity. He once again sought to build solutions, this time specifically designed to cyber protect public safety networks, and knew he'd need a team of great minds to help him innovate solutions. Tim enlisted the aid of his son Alexander Lorello, a promising engineer and ethical hacking specialist with a strong expertise in software and cybersecurity.
Together, Tim and Alex formulated the idea that if they could easily monitor and visualize network traffic for public safety clients, they could help protect those systems. Alex spearheaded the software development, designing a system that could do just such a thing, but they needed a hardware specialist to bring their idea to the physical realm. During Tim's time at TCS, the company hired a strategic advisor with strong connections to cybersecurity professionals. They quickly became good friends and associates while working for TCS, so when Tim founded Seculore Solutions he knew who to call to aid him in cultivating connections within the cybersecurity community.
Through these new connections, Tim was introduced to Sean Scott, a hardware engineer, cyber warfare specialist, and veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Sean not only spent decades building cybersecurity appliances for his previous companies, but also possessed a strong spirit of service and commitment. He had the expertise and character the SecuLore team sought, a perfect candidate for the position of CTO within the company. Once he joined the team, Sean quickly designed the equipment that could house and deliver the software, and just in time for the company to participate in APCO’s show in August of 2016. One year ahead of schedule, SecuLore Solutions debuted its flagship product: Paladin™.
In November of 2016, a county government was concerned about the cyber-posture of their 9-1-1 system and brought in SecuLore Solutions for a CyberBenchmark™, an in-depth cybersecurity assessment. To capture the county’s current risk, Paladin™ was connected to the county’s network for a week of cyber-monitoring. Two days later, the client's network was hit by a massive ransomware attack. Though not originally hired to respond to an incident, the client asked SecuLore for aid in the recovery process given the unique data that was collected by Paladin™. Thankfully, since Paladin™ was implemented prior to the event, it was monitoring and collecting information on the entire process of the cyber attack. Tim and his team adapted the resources available to the company, and worked together with our business partners to flesh out a response team.
The SecuLore team tirelessly analyzed the data, and found that what was first believed to be a successful phishing attack, was in fact a cover for the real infiltration method. The hacker had sent a phishing campaign as a smoke screen while brute-force-hacking an unpatched web permit server. Identifying this hidden infiltration method lead the SecuLore team to discover that Paladin™ had captured valuable data of the attack, including the encryption key to unlock the county’s computer systems. Utilizing Paladin™ data, the team discovered three key components about the hacker's cyber attack: how they got in, how they spread to the entire network, and whether they stole any data - which they hadn't. The hacker claimed they stole many gigabytes of data, a bluff that was easily thwarted due to the data obtained by Paladin™. All these results led to the recovery of the client's systems and removal of the ransomware.
This first client experience shaped the evolution of the company's services. Not only did the SecuLore team learn ways to improve the services offered at the time, they discovered that Paladin™ data capturing was even more powerful than expected, providing valuable information for in-depth forensics. With a full time team SecuLore Solutions would be able to protect systems in real time, stopping attacks before they even begin. Company services evolved to include a Security Operations Center (SOC), which then developed to the 24/7/365 model now offered through our Paladin Overwatch™ service.
At SecuLore Solutions, we continue to evolve and adapt our services to cyber protect our nation's critical infrastructure from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.